LAYING THE TABLE AND SERVING A HOME DINNER WITHOUT A MAID
ONE can serve meals, without a waitress, in an orderly and attractive manner. Lay the silence and table-cloths, a plate for each person, then the silver, according to preceding directions. Place tumblers, bread-and-butter plates with spreaders, and napkins, with salts and peppers between each two covers. In convenient spaces toward the corners place vinegar and oil cruets, a plate of butter with butter-knife or butter-pick, a pitcher of cold or iced water, and relishes, if any are used. The carving cloth and carving set should be in place, with sufficient silver for each dish to be served.
Special pains should be taken in laying the table to provide everything necessary, that there may be as little occasion as possible to go to pantry or serving- table. Since the soup tureen is rarely used, the soup is brought from the kitchen, hot, in heated soup plates, by some young member of the family.
Children should be allowed and taught to help in the serving.
The butler's assistant, a series of shelves on castors, to stand at the left of the mistress is a piece of furniture which is of great assistance in serving without a maid.
It is a help to have some one who sits near the carver serve the vegetables that are to be on the same plate with the meat, as passing the plate back and forth is thus avoided ; or the vegetable dishes may be passed from one to another, each helping himself. Great care should be taken to pass all the accompaniments to the courses, as butter and syrup with hot cakes; cream and sugar with cereal; and condiments and relishes when they are needed. Avoid, however, the confusion of passing many things at once. It is not practical to carry out, for this kind of service, all the rules observed by a waitress. For instance, it is too much to expect of one who has to prepare and serve a meal to take additional steps solely for the sake of form. Therefore, for this kind of serving, it is allowable to leave a person without a plate and to remove two plates at a time, one in each hand. In bringing a very hot dish to the table, one would use a napkin under the dish for protection, but not for the sake of form. Suppose the menu to consist of soup, meat, and vegetables, and dessert ; the order of service would be as follows :
The home dinner menu for which the accompanying plate was prepared is :